‘Mansions’ sinks like a brick


Paul Walker

By Joh Weitzel

IN MODERN HOLLYWOOD, remakes are an ever-present occurrence and, for the most part, mind-numbingly terrible. The worst remakes are completely devoid of what made the orig- inal notable. This is true of “District B13,” an inventive, fast action film featuring parkour and fancy stunt work, and “Brick Mansions,” a remake of the acclaimed 2004 French ac- tion thriller, which is a lazily written and poorly acted re-imagining that is more likely to evoke grimaces than grins. As a new mem- ber of an exclusive club of films with zero re- deeming qualities, the film is unfortunately one of the last starring the late Paul Walker, who died in a car accident last November.

The film is set in 2018, when criminals are running rampant in a dystopian Detroit. Be- cause of the uncontrollable crime rate, the city constructed a massive wall enclosing the lower income area known as Brick Mansions, which notorious drug kingpin Tremaine Al- exander (Wu-Tang Clan rapper RZA) rules with an iron fist. Alexander steals a neutron bomb and threatens to blow up the area out- side of Brick Mansions unless he is paid mil- lions of dollars by the government. Undercov- er cop Damien Collier (played by Walker) is tasked with finding and disarming the bomb before it detonates. He teams up with small- time criminal Lino (played by David Belle, reprising his role from the original “District B13” series) to help locate the bomb before it is too late.

“Brick Mansions” is stupidly cliche. Each character is generic, uninteresting and falls into recycled Hollywood archetypes. There is an honest cop, a damsel in distress and a monstrous goon who is impossible to defeat by conventional means. At one point, Al- exander captures Lino’s ex-girlfriend, Lola (Catalina Denis, “Sleepless Night”), to gain leverage over Lino, but the incident does not contribute to the story aside from turning Lola into a hyper-sexualized and helpless female lead. Lola has a whopping total of six lines of meaningless dialogue in the entire film. For all practical purposes, she might as well have been a cardboard cutout, doing very little for the plot overall.

The only character with any scrap of mo- tivation is Collier, who yearns to avenge the murder of his cop father who Tremaine killed several years prior. Collier recycles the sob story countless times, making the character seem inauthentic.

Even if the characters were interesting, the acting is awful. Rapper-turned-actor RZA delivers a startlingly lackluster perfor- mance. He would be better suited auditioning for a middle school play, delivering his lines as though he was reading them right from a cue card for the first time. Walker and Belle are equally unimpressive, but it is clear that they are trying to salvage something from the underwhelming dialogue, composed mostly of uninspired one-liners. Collier often uses lame sarcasm, such as saying, “This is gonna be fun,” before heading into a risky situation.

Although “Brick Mansions” is an action movie, the action is completely lifeless. Poor editing and lame choreography bog down the fistfights and car chases. Each fight is cut to- gether so quickly that it is difficult to see what is happening, and even when the combat is visible, it is uninteresting and completely unrealistic. Early in the film, Collier jumps onto the back of a speeding car, tightly grasp- ing a small gap between the back window and the trunk with his fingertips. The car speeds along at about 80 miles per hour, but Collier somehow manages to open the trunk, jump in and pop out through the inside of the car, where he easily defeats his opponents. In that same vein of absurdity, bullets never hit Collier or Lino while they weave between rooftops with ease and knock out any oppo- nents that step in their way without taking a hit themselves.

While most action heroes may take a knock or two, those in “Brick Mansions” are both totally invincible, which makes the ac- tion pointless and the drama nonexistent.

As unoriginal ideas continue to dominate film making, “Brick Mansions” is just anoth- er movie destined for the bargain bin.